programs



introduction

To work at restoring my house in Greece stone-by-stone, to lay down colors on my printing plate with a brayer, to write—all these are deeply engaging activities that satisfy my need for connection. But to interact directly with an audience is animating, and ever since I entered the classroom more than 40 years ago to teach high school biology and, eventually, cultural anthropology, I have welcomed opportunities to perform: reading from the books I have authored, presenting a dramatic monologue based on one of my titles (Dancing Girl), working independently as a small-group travel guide in Greece, reading to the elementary grades at a Waldorf school.

Whether I present readings from my books, a gallery talk, a keynote address, a multi-media performance, a symposium, or a combination of the above, the following themes will be implied, if not stated:

My presentations offer glimpses into my dream-like reality; these glimpses may well re-awaken your dreams.

—Thordis Niela Simonsen


multi-media program



building on memory: a writer-artist’s backstory

Words possess the power to move us. So too, art. But what happens when we hear a captivating story embedded with compelling visual images, delivered by an engaging and wise artist? Something extraordinary. We see ourselves. We reflect. We re-commit to life.

Thordis Niela Simonsen has been writing and telling stories for 40 years, painting for 20. Her multi-media program, “Building on Memory: A Writer-Artist’s Backstory” interweaves narrative and visual image to powerful effect. Simonsen’s recollections of an innocent 1950s Lake Erie childhood are set against a backdrop of endearing black/white photographs taken by her father. Explorations of Simonsen’s life-altering relationship with her adopted Greek village—and the abandoned house she restores there stone by stone—are set against a backdrop of her straightforward color photographs. And reflections upon the artist’s lifelong pursuit of insight and freedom through creative self-expression are set against a backdrop of her arresting and revealing paintings.

Built on stories of a lost infancy, a twin-like bond with her sister, touch through the lens of her father’s camera, a mother’s obstinate will, and an unexpected gift from her grandmother, “Building on Memory” is one woman’s soulful and inspiring journey of self-discovery.

The 60-minute program includes 120 slides and is followed by questions/answers.

View Program Trailer (VIDEO)

For more information about content, prices, and availability, or to book “Building on Memory,” please contact Thordis Niela Simonsen at astragreece inc.

 



accolades

Thordis' beautiful presentation was the grand finale of our Women’s History Month. She has given us a new way of looking at composing our lives.
—Judith Helfer, Cuninggim Women's Center, Vanderbilt University

Thordis Simonsen has learned about the world by participating in it. We have much to learn from her and from the people she cares so deeply about.
—Alex Harris, Center for Documentary Photography, Duke University

Thordis Simonsen’s presentation was entertaining, symbolic, and inspiring.
—Andrea Enright, member, Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

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request information

Thordis Simonsen is available to speak at a range of venues including museums, associations, corporations, women’s organizations, libraries, colleges, universities, secondary schools, Hellenic organizations, bookstores and travel stores, and book clubs. Thordis would also be delighted to provide entertainment related to Greece or the writer-artist at the salon you host.

For more information about content, prices, and availability, or to book one of Thordis’ presentations or symposia, please contact her at astragreece inc.

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symposium

blue

 

an odyssey of your own

Like the hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, each of us is a traveler. Although Odysseus was determined to sail home to his beautiful wife Penelope, like all of us, he sometimes lost sight of his dream. An Odyssey of Your Own—a symposium*—offers you an opportunity to define or re-define your dreams and to map a course of action. Like the great poet himself, each of us is a storyteller. Using my stories and your own as springboards, and employing dialogues, writing, and creative visualization, we will explore the following themes: Program highlights include: debunking myths about success; exploring the roles of unacknowledged and acknowledged fear; distinguishing between coincidence and intuition; defining the roles of intellect and intuition and learning how to cultivate the latter; identifying and articulating dreams and mapping a course of action.

Like all travel, the outcome of each symposium promises to be highly personal and unpredictable—
and illuminating.

Thordis Simonsen

*A symposium is a collection of information and opinions shared by a group of individuals on a given subject. In ancient Greek, a symposium was a party, usually following a dinner, for drinking and conversation. Greek=drinking [po] together [sym]

accolades

This symposium opened up the possibility of adventures on a global scale.
—J. Livingston, Salina, Kansas

This symposium was a clarifying, simplifying, and refreshing experience for me.
—D. Coulter, Boulder, Colorado

The symposium opened up possibilities that I had not previously dared to dream.
—S. Swartz, Denver, Colorado

 

request information

Thordis Simonsen is available to speak at a range of venues including museums, associations, corporations, women’s organizations, libraries, colleges, universities, secondary schools, Hellenic organizations, bookstores and travel stores, and book clubs. Thordis would also be delighted to provide entertainment related to Greece or the writer-artist at the salon you host.

For more information about content, prices, and availability, or to book one of Thordis’ presentations or symposia, please contact her at astragreece inc.

 

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about thordis simonsen

Like Odysseus, your program guide is a traveler. Her Greek village odyssey began in earnest in 1982 when the Cabot Trust awarded her a grant for documentary work in the Greek village, Elika, because she expressed “bravery” and “venturesomeness” when she diverged from teaching high school biology to design and teach a course in cultural anthropology and to edit the oral history, You May Plow Here (Norton, 1986). Thordis continues to live in the once roofless and abandoned village house that she purchased and has single-handedly restored. Since 1995, Thordis has shared her love for travel and her passion for Greece by taking small groups on Excursions & Sojourns in Greece. In 2009, she introduced Astra Writing in Greece, a program for women writers who like to travel. Guided all the while by carefully chosen mentors representing the world of Jungian and art therapy and neuro-linguistic patterning, Thordis “travels the path home.”

Like Homer, Thordis is a storyteller. She recorded villagers’ stories and her own in her book Dancing Girl (Fundamental Note, 1991), and she became a storyteller in the traditional sense with her dramatic monologue performances of "Dancing Girl: An American Woman’s Greek Village Odyssey" (2005-06). Her most recent book, Dances in Two Worlds (Fundamental Note, 2011) combines personal essays with evocative paintings.

 

resumé of program venues

Thordis Simonsen has engaged a wide range of audiences: museums and galleries including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (2 engagements), Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Mather Gallery of Case Western Reserve University; associations including the National Women’s Studies Association, Phi Beta Kappa Association, Hellenic-American Educators’ Association, Hellenic Preservation Society of Northeastern Ohio; institutions of higher education including Berea College, Colorado State University (3 engagements), University of Colorado, Rogaland University and College of Education (Stavanger, Norway), S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo, Vanderbilt University (2 engagements), Wesleyan University, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; secondary schools including Colorado Academy in Denver, Colorado and Laurel School, University School, and Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio; public libraries including Douglas Public Library District staff day (2 consecutive years), Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Santa Fe, Seattle.

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genuine encounters for the listener/participant